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Newport Planning Board OKs Ruger Mill Plans

  • An artist's rendering of the proposed The Loft at Newport Mills, the former Ruger Mill building in Newport, N.H., that would house about 70 market-rate apartments in the 70,000 square-foot, three-story brick building. Also part of its redevelopment are a gym, theater, game room and kitchen. Nearly 60 of the apartments would be two bedroom, with five or six of those having lofts, and another seven would be one bedroom apartments. (Courtesy 169 Sunapee Street LLC)



Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Newport — The Planning Board on Tuesday night approved the site plans of a proposed redevelopment of the former Ruger Mill on Sunapee Street that would convert the four-story historic brick structure into 66 apartments with additional amenities, including a gym, media room and game room.

The board did not raise any strong objections to the plans or require major changes, but did add a few conditions and discussed at length what version of the plans would be recorded at the county Register of Deeds.

Eventually the board made a condition of approval that the finished redevelopment — or “as built” — drawings, not the approved site plan, would have to be recorded before a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Ron DeCola, of Manchester, the agent for the owner, 169 Sunapee Street LLC, presented the plans for the 70,000-square-foot building to the board, which first saw them at a meeting in April.

Once complete, The Lofts at Newport Mills would have 59 two-bedroom apartments, with five or six of them having lofts, and seven one-bedroom apartments, all rented at what has been called “market rates.” An existing gun shop in a building on the property would become the manager’s residence, DeCola said.

But before any apartments are constructed, DeCola said, there would be several months of demolition. This would include removing old steam radiators, electrical wiring, plumbing and bathroom fixtures in the main building and roofing, walls and flooring in a portion of the annex.

Further, a silo on the property near the mill would be razed. A machine shop and a sheet metal fabricator now operating in the mill would have to relocate.

After the meeting, DeCola said he doesn’t expect any work to start until next year. In April, he said the project would take about 16 months.

DeCola was joined by engineer Jon Rokeh of Rokeh Consulting in Chichester, N.H., who answered board members’ questions on several aspects of the plans, including improvements to the driveway into the mill property from Cross Street. Rokeh also said the town’s water and sewer system were of sufficient capacity to handle the apartments.

The applicants have received their driveway permit for the Sunapee Street entrance from the state Department of Transportation, as well as shoreline protection (the Sugar River runs behind the mill) and alteration of terrain permits, they said at the meeting.

The former Ruger mill was constructed in 1905 as the Dexter Richards and Sons Woolen Mill and was given National Historic Register status by the U.S. secretary of the Interior after the sale by William Ruger Jr. last August.

DeCola said historic tax credits will be used for the project. Those credits have strict requirements when rehabilitating a historic building, which means there won’t be major structural changes.

DeCola has worked with the real estate developers Brady Sullivan Properties of Manchester on a dozen similar mill redevelopments in New England, including the Waumbec Mill in Manchester and former mill buildings in Maine and Rhode Island.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

Correction

The Stoneagle gun shop continues to operate at 199 Sunapee St. in the former Ruger Mill property in Newport. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Stoneagle's status.